By Shivi Verma
A miracle is a divine knock on the doors of our consensual reality that brings a message of hope, healing and transformation says Shivi Verma
Who has not, at one point or the other, coveted a fairy’s magic wand that would set everything right? Human beings survive on hope when reality becomes too much to bear. They pray for a miracle – a welcome disruption in the neat mathematical order of life.
The good news is that not only do people from all walks of life vouch that miracles happen, some say they have been ‘lucky’ more than once.
Miracles confirm that fairy tales are not too off the mark; the world is indeed an enchanted place.
Krishna revealed himself to Mira – did he not? And the tease that he is, he came just as she readied to jump into the river with the idol of her beloved pressed to her bosom. Miracles come to us so we can be transformed into the wonderful people we never knew we could be. What all the preaching, teaching, lecturing, sermonising, threatening, warning and punishing in the world cannot do, a miracle can. Miracles are known to bring about a paradigm shift in our outlook, thinking, behaviour and conduct.
Miracles and I
My own interest in spirituality was sparked off by some miracles that forced me to acknowledge that there was indeed a higher force behind the world perceived through the senses. I was a 23-year-old student of Mass Communication and journalism in Aligarh University, when I decided to believe a classmate who told me that Hanuman was his friend. The two – deity and devotee – often met in the boy’s dreams and had long discussions.
|On a sunny day, Lt Col Sandeep Sharma idly wished for a rainbow. In fi ve minutes clouds formed and a sharp shower ensued, ending in the manifestation of two rainbows!|
I liked the idea of Hanuman making small talk in the boy’s dreams and decided that I wanted to do it too. I took to invoking Hanuman myself. I asked the Lord to appear in my dreams too. Sadly, my sleep remained uninterrupted by divine visitations. However, as the days rolled on, I began to feel a warm protective presence around me – a feeling of being looked after. I sensed that I was experiencing my own miracle.
A few days later, at the girl’s hostel where I stayed, I had to deal with a mini-emergency. I needed to see my local guardian rather urgently. There were no mobile phones back then, and while we did have a landline at the hostel that we were allowed to use, I had been unable to get through despite repeated attempts. I began to pray to Hanuman. I needed my guardian to be under the banyan tree that stood in front of the gate of the hostel at noon the very next day. I prayed hard till I slept. The next day, at 11:55 am, I walked towards the gate all dressed for the day and prayed at every step for my miracle to happen.
And there he was! He was indeed waiting under the banyan tree for me.
I glanced at my watch. It was 12 0’ clock sharp. My guardian clarified that he had been passing by and had decided to see me before proceeding further. He had parked his car outside, written my name on a slip and given it to a girl entering the gate. “Did you get the slip?” he asked. Well, truth be told, it was I who had sent the divine slip and he who had received it! I marvelled at the miracle. My prayers were answered.
The incident taught me something of great value.
This world is not as rigid as it appears.
|Asha Uberoy became a thiest after experiencing a life-saving miracle|
The world is a continuum of rippling thoughts and desires that mish-mash and crisscross to create the tangible picture we call life. Miracles tell us that one’s will is the biggest tool one has to forge one’s destiny. After all, is a miracle not our own will, attracting divine grace and materialising a desired outcome?
However, a miracle can only be termed a miracle when you gain an insight that a divine power bypassed natural laws in order to favour you in a given moment. It can be a sudden healing, a chance meeting with a dear one lost long ago, or the sudden appearance of a saviour in an hour of distress followed by an as sudden disappearance once the situation is resolved. It is also a miracle when the veil of duality lifts and the truth, like a shining mirror, is laid bare to us.
Shreesh Tongaonkar (35) an advertising professional, says it is only a miracle if it changes something inside us for the better. “If it deepens your faith or removes at least one of your negatives then it is a miracle. The change the miracle brings in you is the accomplishment of the miracle.”
Lt Col Sandeep Sharma (44) was posted in Kashmir five years ago. Travelling in a gypsy along a thin mountainous road on a bright sunny day, he idly wished for a rainbow. It would make his beautiful drive perfect. Barely five minutes passed before clouds swept up on the sky, obscured the sun and released a sharp shower. And behold, two parallel rainbows appeared in the sky.
|On a rainy day, Amit Raissoni and his wife gave two girls a lift in their auto. The very next day, while waiting for a taxi, two men stopped and gave them a lift|
Sandeep halted his car and stood transfixed at the sight. Tears of gratitude rolled down his cheeks. He found himself dancing with joy in the rain. “The exhilaration I felt at having a wish fulfilled in such a magnanimous and mind-blowing way stays etched in my heart till date,” Sandeep says.
Asha Uberoi (69), a resident of Gurgaon, was travelling by car to Jaipur with her husband one November morning. They started out at 4 am to avoid the heavy traffic that inevitably built up along the route later in the day. To their disappointment, they found the entire highway enveloped in dense fog, which reduced visibility to 4 to 5 feet from the vehicle. There was also the ever present fear of collision with other vehicles and the danger of the car slipping off the winding roads on the steep Aravalli ranges with its treacherously deep valleys.
The couple froze with fear and while they were wondering what to do next, they heard the honking of a truck approaching them from the rear. As the gaily painted truck crossed them, they spotted some colourful lights at its back. The couple decided to follow the lights.
Asha was not a religious person. “A background in science made me immune to religiosity in many ways. I did not believe in God or destiny and took pride in being practical and self-reliant. But on that day, I forgot all about my self-reliance and repeated all the prayers I could dredge from my memory.”
|Amit Raisonni believes that miracles are a result of your good karma|
The truck driver, on the other hand, seemed to have no care in the world. He rode at normal speed through the dense fog, and his back lights offered safe passage to Asha and her husband. After about an hour the fog lifted and the sun came out and almost immediately, Asha chided herself for getting into prayer mode and seeking divine help.
They sighted a roadside tea stall and saw the ‘merry’ truck parked a few feet away. Asha ran towards the truck to thank the driver but in the 10 seconds it took her to cover the distance the truck disappeared.
There was no truck there!
Asha shook up the sleepy chaiwallah. “Where is that truck which was standing over here a few seconds ago?” she asked. “Truck, what truck? You are my first customer,” said the man.
Asha remembered the story of the young fatherless boy who followed his mother’s advice to call on his friend Govinda whenever he experienced the fear of wild animals on his way to school. The boy did this every time he crossed the dense jungle and a beautiful boy with a flute in hand and peacock feather in his turban appeared and walked him through.
Years later, only when he became an old man, did the little boy realise that God had answered his simple faith by appearing in person.
“Faith is indeed more powerful than doubt,” says a beaming Asha.
Nishi Malhotra (40), a resident of Washington DC, and an employee with the World Bank, recalls, “My grandmother was in coma for many days before she died. Everybody was praying for her suffering to end.
|Even today while my husband frets when faced with a crunch, I simply sit back knowing that I am being taken care of by the Almighty.|
Suddenly, she sat up bolt upright in bed. ‘I have been where I am supposed to go but I have been denied entry. I have been told to visit the Sisganj Gurudwara (in Delhi) and pray before I can be allowed entry,’ she announced. She got out of the bed, visited the Gurudwara, prayed, came home, lay on the bed and died immediately.
“This miracle convinced me that there is more to reality than the one we live. What we call life is but one stop in a journey we don’t know much about. What is important is to live this experience fully and consciously,” reflects Nishi.
The incident, as is to be expected, made Nishi ponder over the nature of life and death and the transience of all that is.
Amit Raisonni (33), an event manager based in Mumbai, believes that miracles have a karmic basis. “On a madly rainy, windy day, as my wife and I finally entered the auto rickshaw we had spent several cold and agonisingly wet minutes waiting for, two shivering girls appeared out of nowhere. They asked us to take them in but the auto driver refused to ply more than three persons. I bribed the auto driver with an extra Rs 10 so all four of us could squeeze inside. We dropped the girls home safely.
|Rachana Bhatt says that her whole life is woven around miracles|
The very next day our long wait for a taxi in Dhobi Talao, Mumbai, concluded when two kind men in a taxi decided to stop and offer us a lift. They would not let us pay and said they were merely helping us as an old woman had helped them some days back. Strange are the ways of karma!
“After the incident, I believed even more firmly that what we sow, we reap. I was so moved by this miracle that I made a video in Gujarati on the subject. It is available on YouTube and titled Karmo karela mujhne nade che.”
Swapna Raghu Sanand, a lawyer based in New Delhi, hails from a family devoted to Sathya Sai Baba. Recently, the family was shaken when Swapna’s otherwise healthy mother suddenly announced that she had breast cancer. Although her husband and daughter, both doctors, poohpoohed the idea, she persisted, saying that Sathya Sai Baba had asked her to do a mammography. The tests were done and sure enough she did have cancer, but so early was the stage that it was almost imperceptible. Thanks to Baba, the cancer was nipped in the bud.
While most of us anchor our faith in a miracle or two there are those who say that their entire life is woven around and propelled by miracles.
Rachana Bhatt, a 45-year-old homemaker from Gandhidham, Gujarat, is one such person. She says, “I met my husband while in school. I was 13 years old. He was a year older. I did not know him. We found ourselves on the same school picnic and as we were playing some game, a strange voice began to tell me that he was the one for me and I should go sit next to him. I could not understand this strange insinuation and ignored the voice.
|Sathya Sai Baba was renowned for manifesting vibhuti, lockets and watches|
Years later, I did end up marrying him – and it was an arranged match!
“Two months into my marriage, I was making a rangoli on the occasion of Diwali. I felt a jerk as though something just came and settled inside me. Intuitively, I knew I was pregnant with my first child who was a boy. Although no ultra sound pregnancy test had been carried out and I had not even experienced my first morning sickness, I knew I was carrying a boy. I shopped for a baby boy and was proved right after the delivery!
“Even today while my husband frets when faced with a crunch, I simply sit back knowing that I am being taken care of by the Almighty. All this has made me not only confident and strong but also wise and compassionate,” she adds.
No discussion on miracles can be considered complete without mentioning miracle workers and power places like the Sai Baba Samadhi in Shirdi, the cave of Vaishno Devi in Jammu, the Sidhdhivinayak temple of Mumbai, the dargah of fakir Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, the holy shrines of Mecca and Jerusalem. All these places are connected powerfully in collective human memory with spiritually powerful personages who are believed to have manifested miracles.
Devotees visiting these power places report being healed of ‘incurable’ diseases. Couples are blessed with children, long pending court cases have been resolved, relationships improve and many are blessed with unforeseen abundance.
|Sathya Sai Baba with a gold locket miraculously produced from air|
Satish Purohit, a writer and Devi devotee, recounts his own experience with a power place or shrine. In his early 20s, he found himself at the crossroads. He was confused, lonely and did not know what his life calling was to be. At a Bhadrakali temple near his house that he often visited, he prayed with tears in his eyes, and asked the Devi to reveal his life purpose to him. A few days later, a new friend entered his life and stayed long enough to introduce him to people who helped him write for a website. The first full-length article he wrote for them was on Sri Ramakrishna, the great devotee of Kali. “Though our friendship did not last, before we parted ways my friend, who is incidentally named after the Devi, had awakened me to my talent for writing,” says Satish.
Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi who passed away recently was revered all over the world for the miracles he wrought in the lives of his devotees. Jesus Christ’s miracles too are documented in the New Testament.
India has especially been blessed with yogis who are known for their miracles. Saint Gyaneshwar, a scholar and Nath Yogi, manifested several miracles since he was a child. He is known to have heated his body so his sister could make chapattis on his back. He is also believed to have made a buffalo chant Veda mantras.
Sathya Sai Baba was known not only to set the jammed destiny ball of his devotees rolling, but also for producing tangible things like gold chains, pens, lockets, vibhuti, and photographs of men long dead and never photographed, from thin air. Many scoffed at his powers and called Sathya Sai a trickster and magician but such comments do not appear to have reduced his popularity.
It was Sathya Sai who announced that miracles were God’s visiting card.
Jesus made the blind see and brought back a man back from the dead. He fed 5,000 people by multiplying five loaves and two fish. Yet the purpose behind these miracles he maintained was to lead them to seek ‘food that remains for eternal life’.
Sai Baba of Shirdi, who lived between the mid-19th and early 20th Century, is known to have lighted the oil lamps with water when the local grocers refused to lend him oil.
|Great saints who have awakened from the cosmic maya dream and realised this world as an idea in the divine mind know it to be a manipulatable form of condensed or frozen energy|
When a disciple, Das Ganu, expressed a desire to go to Singba to have a bath in the river Godavari, a stream of water sprung from the saint’s feet to fulfil his devotee’s wish. Sai Baba’s miracles have not ceased since he left his body in 1918. Devotees across the world maintain that Sai never forsakes those who seek refuge in him.
The Bhagvatam is full of astounding instances of miracles performed by Lord Krishna, demi-gods and by humans of high spiritual attainments.
“Though every miracle performed by Krishna is unique in its own way, yet no miracle can compare with the one performed by him as the Vamanavatar,” says Vanmali Das (35), a Krishna devotee and member of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON). “The dwarf Vishnu covers the three worlds with his two feet and asks Bali for the third piece of land promised to him. The astounded king had nothing but his head left to offer. Vaman placed his foot on Bali’s head and thrust him down to the nether worlds. King Bali’s hubris had been subdued by the Lord. The story reveals how Divine will subordinates the entire cosmos,” Das says.
Science of miracles
|Paramahamsa Yogananda demystified miracles|
Paramahamsa Yogananda, the founder of Yogoda Satsanga Society, says in the 30th chapter of his book, Autobiography of a Yogi titled Law of Miraclesthat the Vedic scriptures declare that the physical world operates under the fundamental law of maya. “…which is the principle of relativity and duality. God, the sole life, is absolute unity. He cannot appear as separate and diverse manifestations of a creation except under a false and unreal veil. That cosmic illusion is maya.”
Yogananda explains the manifestation of miracles thus:
“A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light. To him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land. Innocent of all personal motives and employing the creative will bestowed on him by the creator, a yogi rearranges the light atoms of the universe to satisfy any sincere prayer of a devotee. For this purpose were man and creation made: that he should rise up as master of maya, knowing his dominion over the cosmos.”
He adds, “Great saints who have awakened from the cosmic maya dream and realised this world as an idea in the divine mind know it to be a manipulatable form of condensed or frozen energy. Thus Christ was able to restore the ear of the servant after it had been severed by one of the disciples. Yet a man of realisation does not perform any miracle until he receives an inward sanction. God does not wish the secret of His creation revealed promiscuously.
“All molecules are held together by God’s will. When he withdraws the will the earth will again disintegrate into energy, and energy will dissolve into consciousness.”
Downside of miracles
Even though a miraculous incident delights us there are several pitfalls if one depends too much on miracles to bail one out of difficult situations.
Bill Aitken, the biographer of Sathya Sai Baba, cautions us against such an attitude. Aitken says one should not naively believe people who claim to perform miracles. “The problem with miracles is that it does not allow for easy objective verification,” he says. Many times the gullible and the vulnerable get easily hoodwinked by the false shows by mischief mongers who lure them with the promise of a miracle.
Vivekananda cautioned followers to use their intelligence and reason even in matters of faith. “Test your guru as much as he tests a disciple before accepting him,” he stressed. Illusions, delusions, superstitions can all result from constantly seeking a miracle outside rather than within yourself.
Seen in this light and from the light of my own experiences I would say that while the miracles that came my way did help me initially there also came a phase when I shunned all responsibility towards myself. After all, I told myself, ‘God was my shepherd why should I care? When this happened, I was stirred out of my reckless complacency by the same Divine hand that had handed solutions on a platter to me. I emerged from my miracles slightly bruised at the edges yet thankfully in one piece.
I realised my folly. Life was not to be led ruled solely by the head or the heart. It was to be led in a state of inner awakening, right now, right here, in this moment. Seen from this perspective, I began to recognise a subtle divinity in even the most mundane affairs of my life. Life, in its smallest detail, was a miracle in its own light. The state of surrender, gratitude and abundance that I felt within myself in the most difficult of situations is for me the lasting miracle that God has accomplished in me.
I have also realised that experiencing a miracle merely kickstarts our journey as a seeker. It is merely the dangling carrot before the horse. It occurs so that we are shaken from our slumber. It forces us to think, to wonder and to seek our true identity.
A miracle, I have concluded, is nothing but a whistle call from God.
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